Archive | June 2013

James Gandolfini Dead: ‘Sopranos’ Star Dies In Italy

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 06/19/2013 7:28 pm EDT  |  Updated: 06/19/2013 7:47 pm EDT

james gandolfini dead

James Gandolfini has reportedly died while in Italy, according to

According to the website, the “Sopranos” star was in the country for a film festival. Variety also initially reported that he suffered a fatal stroke, but both the trade site and updated the cause of death to a heart attack.

Gandolfini was 51 years old and is survived by a wife and two children. He became a household star for his portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos,” a role which earned him three Emmys on six total nominations. He starred in a number of movies over the past few years, including a memorable turn as the CIA director in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Thank you to The Huffington Post for this developing story..



Country Singer Slim Whitman, Known For His Yodel, Dies

Slim Whitman arriving at Heathrow Airport in 1976.

Country singer Slim Whitman, whose yodel helped sell millions of albums in the United States, died overnight on Wednesday in a Florida hospital, his family tells the BBC.

He was 90.

While Whitman was at some point known as “America’s Favorite Folksinger,” he was actually far more popular overseas. As the BBC explains, in 1955 his hit Rose Marie became the longest-reigning No. 1 single until it was knocked off the perch by a Bryan Adams hit in 1991.

The AP adds:

“Whitman’s tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks — and an inspiration for countless jokes — thanks to the TV commercials that pitched his records.

“But he was a serious musical influence on early rock, and in the British Isles, he was known as a pioneer of country music for popularizing the style there. Whitman also encouraged a teen Elvis Presley when he was the headliner on the bill and the young singer was making his professional debut.

“Whitman recorded more than 65 albums and sold millions of records, including 4 million of ‘All My Best’ that was marketed on TV.”

Whitman was introduced to younger audiences by the film Mars Attacks! Aliens were taking over the Earth when humans discover that Whitman’s yodel in Indian Love Call destroys them:

We’ll leave you with one of his biggest hits, Rose Marie:

Busted! Rick Perry Using “Nonprofit Corporation” Run By Governor’s Office to Create Slush Fund

June 12, 2013 By 


It’s no secret that I believe for most Republicans being a hypocrite is almost a required trait to be a member of the GOP.

After all, these are the “small government fiscally conservative” individuals who seem to always want to expand government encroachment on the private lives of Americans, and haven’t had a president from their party balance the budget since the 1950′s.

So it was no surprise when I heard about Rick Perry using tax dollars to fund measures that seek to lure businesses to Texas.

Oh, but if you ask him he completely denies that any of the $5 million that’s been spent to lure businesses to Texas from “blue states” like Illinois, California and New York has come from tax dollars.

And we should believe him, right?  I mean, it’s not like he bragged about a balanced budget, while using 2009 stimulus funds to balance that budget—a 2009 stimulus that he publicly slammed and denounced.

Oh wait, that’s exactly what he did.

See, there’s an organization called TexasOne that collects “donations” from —well anyone—to fund Rick Perry’s trips so he can claim taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for these expenses.

Nothing quite like blatantly legalizing kickbacks from wealthy people, or big corporations, through the guise of “donations” to “build the Texas economy.”

Perry claims TexasOne is a nonprofit corporation—that just happens to be managed by the governor’s office.  The board is appointed by Perry and there’s absolutely no legislated system of checks and balances for oversight of the money that’s “donated.”

And then there’s the previously mentioned hypocrisy of Rick Perry.  While Perry claims no tax money has been used for his travels, the Houston Chronicle calculated that at least 45% of the $4.7 million collected over the last three years (or $2 million dollars) has been funded by local sales taxes.

Mr. “Small Government” Perry is using millions of taxpayer dollars to fund his extravagant trips, while bold-face lying about his use of these tax dollars.

And while he makes these hefty claims about “job creation,” what these trips essentially do is raid other states, attempting to bring jobs from their states to Texas.  Now, I know Perry isn’t the smartest guy around, but even he should understand you can’t “create” jobs that already existed.  Shifting 1,000 jobs from California to Texas doesn’t “create jobs,” it just moves them.

But none of this will matter.  Republicans prove time and time again when they vote this guy into office that it doesn’t matter what he does, they’ll eat big spoon fulls of his bullcrap and do so with a smile.

Even if the thing he’s done is create his very own slush fund to get around state laws which prohibit corporations from directly giving him donations—a slush fund he operates and oversees.

While still using millions of dollars from taxpayers to foot the bill for the expenses his big corporate buddies didn’t cover.  It’s a scheme so corrupt, I’m willing to bet organized crime leaders wished they had come up with it.

Then again, Rick Perry might just be the biggest organized crime leader in the United States.

Paul Krugman Rips ‘Ugly, Destructive War Against Food Stamps’


Published: May 30, 2013


Like many observers, I usually read reports about political goings-on with a sort of weary cynicism. Every once in a while, however, politicians do something so wrong, substantively and morally, that cynicism just won’t cut it; it’s time to get really angry instead. So it is with the ugly, destructive war against food stamps.

The food stamp program — which these days actually uses debit cards, and is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — tries to provide modest but crucial aid to families in need. And the evidence is crystal clear both that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients really need the help, and that the program is highly successful at reducing “food insecurity,” in which families go hungry at least some of the time.

Food stamps have played an especially useful — indeed, almost heroic — role in recent years. In fact, they have done triple duty.

First, as millions of workers lost their jobs through no fault of their own, many families turned to food stamps to help them get by — and while food aid is no substitute for a good job, it did significantly mitigate their misery. Food stamps were especially helpful to children who would otherwise be living in extreme poverty, defined as an income less than half the official poverty line.

But there’s more. Why is our economy depressed? Because many players in the economy slashed spending at the same time, while relatively few players were willing to spend more. And because the economy is not like an individual household — your spending is my income, my spending is your income — the result was a general fall in incomes and plunge in employment. We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis — and the expansion of food stamps, which helps families living on the edge and let them spend more on other necessities, is just such a policy.

Indeed, estimates from the consulting firm Moody’s Analytics suggest that each dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. by about $1.70 — which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.

Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future — an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.

So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it.

The shrinking part comes from the latest farm bill released by the House Agriculture Committee (for historical reasons, the food stamp program is administered by the Agriculture Department). That bill would push about two million people off the program. You should bear in mind, by the way, that one effect of the sequester has been to pose a serious threat to a different but related program that provides nutritional aid to millions of pregnant mothers, infants, and children. Ensuring that the next generation grows up nutritionally deprived — now that’s what I call forward thinking.

And why must food stamps be cut? We can’t afford it, say politicians like Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican of Tennessee, who backed his position with biblical quotations — and who also, it turns out, has personally received millions in farm subsidiesover the years.

These cuts are, however, just the beginning of the assault on food stamps. Remember, Representative Paul Ryan’s budget is still the official G.O.P. position on fiscal policy, andthat budget calls for converting food stamps into a block grant program with sharply reduced spending. If this proposal had been in effect when the Great Recession struck, the food stamp program could not have expanded the way it did, which would have meant vastly more hardship, including a lot of outright hunger, for millions of Americans, and for children in particular.

Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.

But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.

Thank you to The NY Times for this story.

‘All in the Family’ Star Jean Stapleton Dies at 90

Jun 1, 2013 5:40 pm

gty jean stapleton all in the family jt 130601 wblog All in the Family Star Jean Stapleton Dies at 90


Jean Stapleton, the actress best known for her role as Archie Bunker’s wife Edith in the groundbreaking 1970s television series “All in the Family” died of natural causes at her home in New York City on Friday. She was 90.

Stapleton’s son, John Putch, confirmed his mother’s death to ABC News.

“Being the children of a beloved Mother on Television means sharing the spirit of who JEAN STAPLETON was with her friends and fans. It is with great love and heavy hearts that we say farewell to our collective Mother, with a capital M. Her devotion to her craft and her family taught us all great life lessons,” John Putch and his sister Pamela Putch said in a statement released today.

Despite a successful acting career, Stapleton did not attain fame until she was nearly 50 years old when she took on the role of “dingbat” Edith Bunker, softening Carroll O’Connor’s bigoted, brash Archie in the CBS series produced by Norman Lear. Stapleton won three Emmys for her portrayal.

“The benign, compassionate presence she developed made my egregious churl bearable,” O’Connor wrote of Stapleton in his 1998 autobiography.

When the series wrapped in 1979, Stapleton moved on to new roles in television and in film, most notably for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1982′s “Eleanor, First Lady of the World,” for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Stapleton was married to William Putch, a producer/director of the Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, Pa., where she appeared for many season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He died in 1993.

Stapleton is survived by her daughter, Pamela Putch, and her son, John Putch.

Thank you to ABC News for this article.

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